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Oahu Hawaii Mem-O-Map

  • Author: DRURY, John G
  • Publisher: Mem-O-Map Co, USA
  • Date: 1946
  • Dimensions: Sheet: 26.5 x 35 cms


US Army veteran John G Drury’s bright pictorial “Mem-O-Map” of Oahu, Hawaii [1946], a wartime memento for demobbed servicemen

About this piece:

Oahu Hawaii Mem-O-Map

Printed colour on thick card-like paper. A very clean, bright & well-preserved example.

John G Drury’s attractive pictorial Mem-O-Map of the island of Oahu, Hawaii, designed to provide a potentially personalized record of the service activities of returning US veterans who had seen active service in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.

John Gottlieb Drury [1907-1988] had conceived of the Mem-O-Map designs as a result of his own two year wartime service as a 4th Grade Technician with the 214th Ordnance Battalion in the Pacific Theatre, where he had been posted to the island of Okinawa during the final months of the war, following its capture by Allied forces at the end of June 1945. It was as a result of map sketches produced both on Okinawa for many of his GI buddies & later on the troop ship home that he first conceived the idea of this niche post-war map publishing business which he initially ran from his home of North Hollywood, California in the immediate post-war years.

The series of Mem-O-Maps that Drury designed in late 1945 and copyrighted in early 1946 comprised individual maps of Okinawa; Japan and Korea; The Philippine Islands; Oahu (Hawaii); and one additional map focusing on the European Theatre. All were printed in deliberately bright and colourful primary colours and were each embellished with amusing historical, artistic, cultural & gastronomic vignettes that did much to belie the terrible destructive impact of the war upon the regions shown.

The numerous pictorial scenes & vignettes focus upon the native lifestyle, artefacts and natural beauty & wildlife of Hawaii, with depictions of palm trees, tropical flowers & plants, sugar cane, native cattle & goats, pineapple plantations, bananas, papayas, banyan trees, grass huts, a ukelele player & grass skirted native dancer and the now all too familiar surf boarder off Waikiki Beach. Local Honolulu sights include the Aloha Tower and the Statue of King Kamehameha I.

The impact of the war is visible primarily in the depiction of the naval base of Pearl Harbour, the scene of the unprovoked & devastating Japanese aerial attack in December 1941, which precipitated the US entry into World War II.  In the environs many of wartime airfields and bases are highlighted, including Hickam, Luke, Bellows & Wheeler Fields as well as Forts Kamehameha, Shafter & Hassey. The coastal Naval air station at Barbers Point north west of Pearl Harbour is also pinpointed with an amusing vignette of clippers, comb & scissors. In the centre of the Island is Schofield Barracks, first established in 1908 and home to the US 25th Infantry Division.

Each Mem-O-Map had the potential to be customized by its owner to provide a unique personalized geography and memorial of their wartime service. This could be done by completing the dates of arrival and departure to/from the USA and by adding the individual’s name & organization/unit and the locations, dates & movements of themselves individually & or their unit collectively through the island or region depicted.

To read more about John Gottlieb Drury and his unusual Mem-O-Maps see to our recent Blog post

Refs: cf Katherine Harmon: You Are Here Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination, p.119